By Amy Kaufman
This post has been updated. Please see note below.
8:59 AM PDT, July 29, 2012
"The Dark Knight Rises" may have soared to the top of the box office for the second consecutive weekend, but the Batman film is still falling behind its predecessor.
The final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy saw its ticket sales tumble 60% to $64.1 million during its second weekend in theaters, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros. The film has now collected $289.1 million in the U.S. and Canada -- roughly $25 million less than "The Dark Knight" made during the same time period in 2008 despite lower ticket prices.
Given that the film notched an excellent A grade with opening weekend moviegoers and earned strong critical reviews, the difference in receipts could be due largely in part to the Aurora, Colo., massacre. A week after a gunman opened fire in a post-midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20, Hollywood research firm NRG reported that 20% of moviegoers were reluctant to head to theaters. The start of the Olympics this weekend also may have affected ticket sales.
For the second weekend in a row, Warner Bros. distribution executives declined to discuss the Batman film's box office performance.
Indeed, two other movies struggled upon their debuts at the box office this weekend as well. "The Watch," a R-rated comedy starring well-known comedians such as Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, started off with a disappointing $13 million. And though "Step Up Revolution," the fourth entry in the dance franchise, was made for less money, its $11.8 million launch was unimpressive. As a result of the lackluster results, ticket sales were down 25% compared with the same three-day period in 2011.
While "The Dark Knight Rises" may be lagging a bit behind the 2008 Batman film at the domestic box office, it has a shot as surpassing the second installment overseas. This weekend, the new movie starring Christian Bale as the iconic superhero played in 57 foreign countries and by Friday had grossed a total of $176.1 million internationally. "The Dark Knight" sold $468.6 million worth of tickets abroad -- roughly 47% of its worldwide gross.
"The Watch" has been loathed by critics, notching only a 14% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Moviegoers who saw the film this weekend also disliked it, giving it an average grade of C+, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
Financed for about $68 million by 20th Century Fox, "The Watch" centers around four men who launch a local neighborhood watch and then end up battling aliens. The film was originally called "Neighborhood Watch," but Fox changed the title in May because it was fearful the movie would be wrongly tied to the Feb. 26 death of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
The 3-D "Step Up Revolution" had the lowest debut of any film in the franchise -- trailing behind the $15.8 million the third film took in its opening weekend in 2010. Those who did see the fourth entry this weekend -- 71% of whom were under the age of 24 -- assigned it a B+ grade.
"Step Up Revolution" had a budget of about $33 million and is the first movie in the franchise to be financed entirely by Summit Entertainment, which was acquired by Lionsgate this past winter. Previously, the "Step Up" films were co-financed by Summit and Walt Disney Studios.
The "Step Up" series, which started in 2006 and launched Channing Tatum's career, now stars a cast of unknown actors. Since the original hit theaters six years ago, however, the "Step Up" films have become increasingly popular abroad; two years ago,"Step Up 3-D" grossed $116.9 million overseas, accounting for roughly 73% of its worldwide gross.[Updated, 11:35 a.m. July 29: Over the weekend, "The Dark Knight Rises" grossed $122.1 million overseas in 57 foreign markets, raising its international total to $248.2 million. The film performed best this weekend in France, where it debuted with $11.3 million, but continued to do solid business during its second weekend in the United Kingdom as well. So far, the Batman film has collected $47 million in the U.K.
Follow Amy Kaufman on Twitter @AmyKinLA
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